Hello everyone..I just recently was made aware of the whole trout guide license issue. Since I'm coming up on the nearly two decade mark as a full time tailwater guide here I'd like to add my thoughts. First, I am not opposed to a "guide license" in the state of Tennessee, never have been. But it should be done to ensure a level of safety and professionalism, not as a fund raising effort. Guides already bring in money to TWRA through license sales. I regularly take folks who purchase three day licenses with a trout stamp, out of state folks pay more, often they fish one day, take no fish from the resource (we've always been catch and release), and leave. These same people stay in local hotels, frequent local restaurants and contribute to the area economy. Out of state guides probably contribute much less to the local economy but still bring in revenue to the TWRA through licenses.
Be assured, nobody is making a killing at this. You don't become a guide for the money, and you sure won't stay one for long if that is your motivation. Not everyone who floats in a driftboat is a guide, matter of fact, most these days aren't. Most people here probably already know that, but I wonder sometimes about TWRA's perception. There are very few people out there who count on guiding as they're primary source of income. I know most of 'em..they're good guys, they don't have beach houses. It's a lot like farming, some years you make it, some years you don't.
Don't get me wrong, if you derive income from a resource you probably should contribute a little more, but it needs to be fair. Tennessee is not Montana, people don't travel from all over the world to fish here. I for one am happy about that as it keeps the traffic, and number of guides down by virtue of supply and demand, a tried and true system. Enforcement of the current regulations on tailwaters is quite frankly a joke. Anyone who spends much time there knows that. TWRA officers are already stretched thin, where would they find the resources to enforce this new regulation? Are you going to stop everyone in a driftboat and ask if they're a guide?How much money could it actually bring in minus the cost of administration? This has been proposed before and found to be not feasable. What changed?
Bottom line is this reg would make an already tough business tougher, ask the fly shops. Tennessee tailwaters, like all great rivers, will ultimately only be maintained through common sense regulations that benefit the resource, and dilligent enforcement of those regulations. Not through knee jerk reactions just to appear to be doing something.